Tampa, Florida, May 1, 2012—Hope’s Blend is not your ordinary “Joe.” As a fair-trade coffee, specially blended to mark 10 years of partnership between UMCOR and producer Equal Exchange, a sip of it brings a little bit of heaven to struggling and determined small-scale farmers in Africa.
Delegates, observers, and other visitors to the 2012 General Conference of The United Methodist Church, meeting in Tampa, are the first to sample the new blend, which was unveiled here last Monday at a coffee bar set up in the General Board of Global Ministries’ display in the conference exhibit area.
The new blend is a product of the UMCOR Coffee Project, through which a portion of sales income support Equal Exchange’s Small Farmer Fund and UMCOR’s Sustainable Agriculture and Development program. Both provide farmers with the tools and training they need to make their enterprises viable and sustaining.
“Farmers who grow the coffee are all paid a fair price for their coffee beans,” said Darya Mattes, community sales rep for Equal Exchange, while she served up samples of the special brew to General Conference delegates on a break from deliberations.
That the farmers receive a just price for their product means they can provide a better living for their families, education for their children, and a roof over the family home.
Also available at the Global Ministries’ display are samples of fair-trade chocolate and Equal Exchange’s newest product, Geo cereal bars. Fairly traded olive oil and hot chocolate are also on display. The products are not for sale here, but visitors can place an order and have it shipped home free of charge.
Equal Exchange, a worker-owned co-op and fair-trade specialty company, partners with thousands of congregations and faith-based organizations, and since 2002 has partnered with UMCOR in the UMCOR Coffee Project.
Some 2,000 United Methodists participate in the project, which annually raises more than $20,000, and since 2002, has raised more than $160,000, to support small-scale farmers. Hope’s Blend, a fellowship coffee, is one more way United Methodists can promote economic and social justice.
“We’re excited about the coffee,” Mattes said, “so people should come try it.
Purchases of fair-trade coffee through the UMCOR Coffee Project can be made atEqual Exchange’s Interfaith Store. World Fair Trade Day is May 12.
Linda Unger is staff editor and senior writer for the United Methodist Committee on Relief.